Food & beverage industry is on the rise globally as well as in India. At this moment, it is of utmost importance for this industry to balance two competing goals—market share and sustainability. Apart from the challenges of population, factories are faced with the need to reduce energy consumption and waste. In addition, we are witnessing a new industrial revolution with a focus on flexibility, connectivity and performance. For factories and end users in the food & beverage industry, these are the factors with the most significant impact:
Meeting user needs and managing production requirements
With rising competition, factories and end users are finding it extremely difficult to increase or maintain market share. Consumers demand for affordable products and satisfaction; on the other hand increasing global population is leading to shortage of raw materials. In addition, factories are now focusing on reducing waste and energy consumption for their needs of achieving operational excellence. Today, factories face a unique challenge of managing these rising consumer demands and their production needs.
Success is closely tied to customer satisfaction. In today’s global food & beverage market, customer satisfaction is influenced by an intangible and fleeting set of tastes, preferences and hygiene. To keep pace with fast-changing consumer trends, production processes need to be both flexible and sustainable. With rising operational costs, factories look at having one production line for manufacturing multiple product variants and to achieve this, it needs flexibility.
However, the pursuit of a balance between the conflicting goals of flexibility and cost-effectiveness has made the food & beverage industry one of the most innovation-driven around. Tomorrow’s leaders in this industry are looking for production solutions that allow high availability coupled with maximum flexibility and human-friendly operation. To leverage such benefits, factories are looking to move towards smart manufacturing and connected shopfloor.
Making manufacturing smart
Every element is important in making factories smarter. It is necessary for machine builders to build machines with latest technologies to keep pace with global competition. A flexible machine configuration including modular and scalable hardware and software is necessary; at the same time in is vital for complying with the industry norms with food grade components to prevent food contamination. Waste reduction is on the radar of many factory operators, thus an integrated energy & condition monitoring system along with overall equipment and line efficiency is important.
This industry relies on safe and sanitary proven parts and components as a way to produce in their harsh environments. In an industry as regulated as the consumer goods production, the highest standard of hygiene, easy cleaning and dust-proof characteristics are expected. In our endeavor to help factories provide uncontaminated food and maintain hygiene standards, we at B&R offer food grade components.
Next generation industrial transport technology for batch-size-one
Now-a-days, consumers are more demanding and seek customised products. Without doubt, customised products have benefit for consumers. Thus, consumers are willing to pay more for such products. That is what makes things like custom photo albums, which customers can create online and have delivered straight to their door, such an interesting business model. Rather than pay the lowest possible price for a traditional photo album with sleeves or adhesive pages, consumers prefer to pay several times more for a personalised item. For the manufacturer, however, these customised products must meet one condition: suitability for highly automated mass production or else the unit costs are too high to be profitable.
Flexible batch-size-one manufacturing operations need machinery that can adapt automatically without operator intervention. A bottle filling line must be able to detect errors in filling and should be able to stop bottles being filled at the faulty station without stopping the line. The machine must be able to account for such errors. An intelligent transport system is an ideal way to implement a motion control solution with this level of responsiveness. Unlike conventional belts with rigid timing, an intelligent transport system conveys each product individually – with variable target positions, speeds and clearances.
Such transport systems are surprisingly scarce in modern plants considering the actual level of demand. The technological maturity of what is currently available on the market may have a lot to do with this. The existing technology has severe shortcomings when faced with industrial conditions. Some systems have insufficient load capacity; others lack the necessary safety functions. Although what is needed is true integration, many manufacturers struggle with complex system architectures that require gateway modules. The guideway and other components are prone to wear, resulting in frequent service downtime. These flawed implementations have stunted the growth of what is an otherwise a vital technology.
ATS SuperTrak from B&R has been specially developed for 24/7 operation in harsh industrial environments. The system is reliable, safe and remarkably service-friendly.
Reducing unplanned downtimes, enhanced remote diagnostics & OEE
Unplanned downtimes are a major threat to productivity. They increase line stoppages, wastage of time, raw material, products and hamper products quality. To avoid such unplanned downtimes, B&R provides factories with condition based monitoring. Thus, parts in machines can be used to the maximum duration and then replaced when actually required. This condition based information helps maintenance teams schedule their maintenance schedules without hampering production. Condition monitoring can be integrated in any machine on the shop floor. APROL factory automation solutions from B&R provide energy and condition monitoring along with process data acquisition. In addition, B&R offers a mapp component dedicated to CFR 21, Part 11, which ensures transparency and traceability for all actions performed on the line.
Today, factory operators aim to have a 24/7 connectivity to the shop floor, in order to monitor processes. They also focus on monitoring the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), as increased OEE can result in increased profitability. To have a seamless connectivity to the shopfloor, the biggest hurdle is the IT department from the factories. The IT focuses on security, confidentiality and integrity whereas the production focuses on productivity and availability. To stay connected it needs access to machines via the office network. It is essential to have a balance in these needs of IT and production. With Secure Remote Maintenance (SRM), factory operators can have seamless secure connectivity right down to sensors and variables. Machine builders access their machines without interfering with the IT network of the factory. The IT configures and provides access rights and only authorised personnel can access the network. This offers a perfect mix of security and data integrity.
Similar to line integration, food & beverage industry demands vision process inspection to be integrated in high-speed lines. Factories look at increasing availability of production lines with flexible, intelligent reactions to safety events using network-based safety. APROL enables integration of visual process inspection with fast reactions to relevant events. The range of data processing options also includes additional measured and analysed data such a temperature readings.
Sustainability for the future
Even with high level of dynamics and new technology introductions, food & beverage industry is steady and driven by innovation. Digitisation is prominent in factories. It is enhancing efficiency, accuracy, productivity and quality. These new technologies are game changers leading to higher profitability.